The nearly $80 million capital project that voters approved in February has been moving forward and some of the construction will be underway in the coming months. Through this project, there are many exciting things ahead for our community and students, as well as a period of construction that we will all go through.
To recap, the two major areas of focus of the project are: extensive renovations at both middle schools and an addition at Iroquois Middle School as part of the transition to a grades 5-8 middle school program (5-6 at Van Antwerp and 7-8 at Iroquois); and the transformation of the outdoor athletic facilities complex at Niskayuna High School.
The project has been broken into two phases, with the work further divided in each:
Phase 1: Roofing replacements; Outdoor athletic facilities improvements; Infrastructure work
Phase 2: Iroquois classroom addition and renovations at Iroquois and Van Antwerp middle schools for the grades 5-8 program reconfiguration
What follows is a synopsis and current timeline for each phase.
Phase 1A: Roof Replacement (Glencliff, Rosendale, Niskayuna High School, Transportation Center)
The Board of Education awarded contracts for this work this fall. The replacement of these roofs is expected to begin this spring and be substantially complete in time for the 2022-23 school year. Preliminary work at the Hillside Avenue Transportation Center is anticipated this winter and some work at that facility, including fire alarm system upgrades, are being paid for through a separate grant.
Phase 1B: Niskayuna High School Athletic Facility Improvements and Gymnasium Masonry Repairs
Plans for the outdoor athletic facility and masonry repairs at the high school were approved by the State Education Department last month, and the work is expected to go out to bid in January. Construction will begin this coming spring. The athletic facilities work includes: a new track; a new, enlarged multi-sport synthetic turf field within the track; new baseball and softball fields; additional parking and roadway/traffic flow improvements; and accessibility improvements for individuals with disabilities. Additional improvements could be made if the funds are available.
The work at the facility will be complete in stages over the 12-24 months after construction starts this spring, which will impact athletic teams during that time. The track and field team will practice at Schenectady High School and have away meets only for the season this coming spring. Mohonasen High School has been secured for the Warrior Invitational. There is the potential that alternate sites could be necessary for lacrosse. The football team will likely need to practice and compete at alternate locations for the fall 2022 season. The baseball team could need alternate locations at times for the spring 2022 season and is expected to need an alternate site/sites for the full 2023 season. Softball will remain at Van Antwerp until its fields are ready. The district is fortunate to have good relationships with local high schools and colleges/universities which will help in securing sites for teams as needed while construction is taking place.
It is important to note that once construction preparations begin at the high school on April 1, 2022, parking on campus will become more limited, especially given that the parking/roadway by the Pool/Athletic Office will be closed. We are working with local retailers to try to secure more school parking.
Phase 1C: Infrastructure Work (Birchwood, Craig, Glencliff Hillside and Niskayuna High School)
This work varies by building and includes items such as boiler and heating and ventilation system upgrades. Approval from the State Education Department is anticipated in early 2022, followed by the work being put out to bid and construction starting in the summer of 2022.
Phase 2A: Additions and Renovations at Iroquois, Sitework at Iroquois and Rosendale
The transition to a grades 5-8 middle level program with grades 5-6 at Van Antwerp and grades 7-8 at Iroquois was based on the district’s academic program plans, enrollment projections and extensive community conversations that highlighted the benefits of this approach. After voters approved the capital project in February 2021, a team of teachers, administrators and district architects King+King took this conversation to the next level of detail with a focus on Iroquois. Their work informed the renovation and addition that will begin at Iroquois this summer.
A new, two-story addition will house four of the seven teams of 7th and 8th graders who will occupy the redesigned building. Each collaborative team area will include a science classroom, four flexible core area classrooms, a resource room, and additional versatile breakout spaces for students and staff to work in. Once the addition is complete, the rest of the building will be renovated in a similar manner, with collaborative team areas, flexible classrooms and breakout spaces. Completing the addition first will provide space to house Iroquois students while the rest of the building is renovated in stages.
This phase also provides for improvements to the Iroquois-Rosendale site, including roadway and traffic flow improvements that will connect the two schools. The current timeline calls for construction to be complete in 2024.
Phase 2B: Van Antwerp Renovations and Infrastructure
During the early part of 2022, a team of middle-level educators (including grade 5) and administrators will begin working with district architects King+King on more detailed design plans for Van Antwerp, similar to the approach of the Iroquois planning team. The current timeline calls for plans to be submitted to the State Education Department early in 2023 with construction beginning the next year. Construction is projected to be complete in 2026.
The new grade-level configuration is not planned to take effect until after construction is complete at both Iroquois and Van Antwerp.
Priorities During Construction: Health, Safety and Communications
Although the capital project will bring many exciting benefits to our students and school community, we will also need to navigate the logistical considerations that go with a large-scale construction project. It is important to be aware that when approaching substantial construction at any school, a health and safety committee is activated to provide a mechanism for sharing information, feedback and concerns between staff members and district leaders, architects and the construction management team. Additionally, the district will be communicating as much information about the work as possible, with increasing frequency, as construction approaches and when it is underway.
We appreciate the community’s support with this capital project and the contributions that so many stakeholders have made to the process so far.